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The ISO 27001 & ISO 22301 Blog

Dejan Kosutic

How long does it take to implement ISO 27001 / BS 25999?

This is probably the second most common question I hear about ISO 27001 and BS 25999 (the first one is How much does it cost?). Well, the answer is not really encouraging – most of the people I speak to expect it to be a few months. But this is not realistic – the reality is closer to one year.

Of course, you can always produce 50 documents in a matter of days claiming you are compliant with ISO 27001, but this is not what I’m writing here about. I’m writing about the implementation that makes sense, i.e. that produces results – a lower number of incidents, higher efficiency, cost savings etc.

Time needed for ‘Plan’ and ‘Do’ phases

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Your main implementation effort will be spent on the Plan and Do phases, i.e. the first two mandatory phases in which the risk assessment/business impact analysis is being done and in which all the controls (including business continuity plans) are being implemented.

The duration of implementation for these two phases depends primarily on the size of the organization:

  • Smaller organizations (up to 50 employees) usually implement the standard in up to 8 months
  • Mid-size organizations (up to 500 employees) usually implement the standard in 8 to 12 months
  • Large organizations (500 employees and more) – implementation usually lasts 12 to 15 months

One note here – in my experience, the companies that drag such projects for too long (e.g. small companies for more than 12 months), usually never finish the project – in such organizations there is never enough recognition of the importance of ISO 27001 or BS 25999, so human or financial resources dedicated to such a project are never sufficient.

When speaking about implementation time, it is worth mentioning here that the work on ISO 27001 / BS 25999 doesn’t stop with Plan and Do phase – these management systems need to be maintained and improved (phases Check and Act), meaning that the work on information security and business continuity is not one-off, but continuous. However, the effort for maintaining and improving the system is not as great as in the first two phases.

Things that will speed up your implementation

The duration mentioned above depends of course on many factors, but generally the following factors will speed up the implementation:

  • If you run the implementation as a project – if you know exactly what are the objectives, who is responsible for what, if the resources are available and what are the deliverables, you will not only speed up the process but also increase your chances of a successful outcome.
  • If you already have ISO 9001 or some other management system – ISO 27001 and BS 25999-2 are not that different from other management systems, so you can use some of the existing procedures and processes and save probably 20% to 30% of your time.
  • If you already have many security/business continuity policies and procedures already in place – chances are that your existing documentation will be acceptable for ISO 27001/BS 25999 and it will decrease your implementation time; not only that, you will already have an understanding in your organization about what information security / business continuity is all about.
  • Having the appropriate documentation templates – here I don’t mean any documentation templates, but the templates in your language, appropriate for the size of your company, and made specifically for the purpose of ISO 27001/BS 25999. (Another note here – free templates downloaded from the Internet are not going to speed up your process because you’ll need considerable time for their customization.)
  • Having the knowledge – you can obtain the knowledge either through literature, in-person courses, online courses (that’s our specialty!), or by hiring a consultant; without knowledge not only will your project last much longer, but you’ll probably never finish it.
  • Last but certainly not least – the support of your management. If you don’t get their support in terms of money and human resources, your project will actually last quite short – it will be finished even before it begins.

So the point is – the implementation of standards like these does take quite a lot of time, so you need to make sure you do it with some purpose in mind. If implementation is done superficially or without clear objectives, you’ll not only lose time but miss an opportunity to help your company improve and grow.

And of course, you can decrease the implementation time – if you plan your project carefully.

Click here to access Free Calculator – Duration of ISO 27001/ISO 22301 Implementation.

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